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Sous Vide: Recipes, Techniques & Equipment (Part 2)


francois
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Vadouvan knows his pork belly. I do mine at least 30 hours with 36 or 48 or more preferred. I go down to 65C, though.

I just do some salt and some sugar. Then vac and bathe. The hit it with the torch or sear.

Pork belly sous vide is probably my favorite meat right now.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I got a polyscience 5L-M water bath off E-bay a couple of days ago and have been trying out a few things. After I tested and confirmed it was in good working order (I love gun thermometers) I tried pork loin at 140 for 4 hours with just some salt, pepper, and thyme to season. It came out really nice, moist and tender, however, next time I'll have to season a little more liberally.

Yesterday I tried caramelized yogurt, from ideas in food, at 180 for 24 hours using some Strauss family whole milk yogurt. I haven't thought of how to use it aside from what they have on ideas in food, but at first tasting, to me it is most like a washed rind cheese, with a little bit of a smokey nuance, so right now I'm considering using it like any cheese. At the same time I also threw in some sour cream to see how that would go, some onions in molasses, and some figs....all yet to be tasted.

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Tetsuya Wakuda has a great recipe for confit of Ocean Trout but with maddeningly imprecise instructions - 'turn the oven to the lowest it can go and cook for 6-7 minutes'. The end result as in just about all Tetsuya recipes is brilliant however.

The trout is cooked sous-vide style in oil at a very low temperature and the fish comes out looking almost completely raw, bright red but cooked. My question to the low-tempeature boys here is - what internal temperature should I shoot for and for how long should I cook. The lowest my oven can go is 50C.

(This is a bit of a cross posting from the thread "Emergency court-bouillon: no wine in the house, ''fumet de poisson'': poaching salmon" but there are so many LTLT experts here I thought I might try here also)

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The trout is cooked sous-vide style in oil at a very low temperature and the fish comes out looking almost completely raw, bright red but cooked. My question to the low-tempeature boys here is - what internal temperature should I shoot for and for how long should I cook. The lowest my oven can go is 50C.

Salmon turns color at about 104F /40C. So you want to be below that.

Salmon "mi cuit" (barely cooked) in oil is a pretty popular / trendy dish that has appeared in a number of cookbooks, including French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller and Formulas for Flavor by Joe Cambell. A similar dish is in Joan Roca's Sous Vide book.

Various chefs use sligthly different temperatures. Roca recommends 38C / 100.4C. Keller and Cambell 102F/39C I usually cook it at 38.4C/103F

Best bet is to cook it sous vide, with some oil (usually flavored) in the bag. Use a lab water bath to accurately maintain the temperature.

Next best bet is to cook it on the stove. Put oil in a pan, bring the oil to 39C (using an accurate digital thermometer to check it). Note that a hot tub or hot bath or shower is probably about the temperature - this is not very hot.

If you have trouble keeping the oil at that temperature, use indirect heat, or a double boiler.

Then poach the salmon in the oil until the internal temperature is 39C or so.

Use a thin cut of salmon - this temperature is so low that a thick piece will take so much time to come to tempertaure that there would be food safety concerns.

It will look dead raw, but won't be. Either serve it that way if your guests will accept it. Or, sear the outside using an incredibly hot pan with smoking oil, for just a moment.

I don't think that your oven would work very well - most ovens have very poor temperature control at the extreme low end of their range.

Nathan

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I thought i understood, but nathan confused me with this sentance

"Use a thin cut of salmon - this temperature is so low that a thick piece will take so much time to come to tempertaure that there would be food safety concerns."

I thought that keeping the fish/meat/chicken at a low temperature is ok as long as it is kept long enough to sterilize the meat? For example, a roast at 125 deg. F sous vide can be cooked for 24-36 hours b/c it is long enough to sterilize.

Why are you saying the salmon has to cook quickly?

jason

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Because the temperature in this case is WAY BELOW the temperature where long term cooking will sterilize.

Human body temperature is 98.6F/37C and we are talking about cooking just above that temperature. This makes it a perfect temperature to incubate germs that could infect you.

US FDA rules, as discussed in previous posts in this thread, and a couple others, put the minimum temperature for sterilization at 130F/54.4C - and you need at least 112 minutes at that temperature. Here we are talking about MUCH lower temps.

It is within the FDA rules to cook Salmon mi cuit - or even serve salmon sushi or sashimi that is totally raw. However, you should not cook it for an extended period of time.

Techincally, FDA rules would say no more than 4 hours total time between leaving the refer and being consumed, with cooking as part of this. Also, as a technicality, if a health inspector questioned salmon mi-cuit as being proper, the answer is that it would qualify as RAW salmon (which happened to be warm) rather than cooked.

Although 4 hours is within the rules, I personally would not risk taking it this long. There is no hard cut off, but I generally size salmon mi cuit so that it cooks in about 20 minutes - which means 1 inch thick or less. I would do up to an hour, but no more than that.

Which means you should have a salmon fillet or steak. I would NOT try to do a whole salmon, or a large chunk from one.

My favorite cut of salmon for this kind of cooking is the belly meat, which is very thin anyway. The rich fat in the belly meat makes this method particularly attractive.

Salmon mi cuit can be perfectly safe, so don't let this dissuade you.

Incidentenally, this is a FANTASTIC thing to do with a fish called Escolar, sometimes called "white tuna" by fish markets. Just incredible this way.

It is also very good with tuna. Try it with tuna also, particularly toro - bluefin tuna belly. Some would say it is sacrlidge to heat toro, but doing it this way it is really amazing - the warmth brings out the flavor.

Nathan

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mi-cuit smoke cooked fish is great as well...cook it in coolish smoke

I agree with Nathan and others. These temperatures are not high enough to kill bugs that can be very bad for you. In fact they just encourge them to breed, so treat the fish essentially as raw, cook and eat with 4 hours or so.

For meat I'd follow the FDA guidelines with 130F/112 minutes as the lowest safe temperature/time. Below that the curve goes up very sharply, and the bugs breed quicker than they are killed. The meat is essentially raw. If you want to serve warm carpaccio or tatare fine, but treat it as raw meat.

Nathan earlier provide a reference to

http://www.hi-tm.com/Documents2001/time-te...lculations.html

which suggest the lowest safe temperature is 127.5F. However at that temperature the meat will stay essentially raw, and the collagen scarcely dissolve

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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Nathanm - thanks for the detailed help. Your generous reply is great as ever.

I still don't have a lab bath yet so I am going to have to stick to the oven at the moment. Actually I've checked the oven with a high accuracy thermometer and it is pretty reliable - no more than a degree out.

Here's the thing Mr Wakuda strikes me as an honest man so I think I can trust that a low heat in the oven for 6-7 minutes will produce the correct result. In the book he says the lowest temperature possible in the oven, with the door open, for 6-7 minutes and no more than 10.

The question is - what is the lowest temperature - Some people report cooking the Trout at 100C others at 50C-60C. What's the consensus?

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well first of all I'll answer my own question - I cooked the trout at 60C just until the internal temperature got to 39C (8 minutes or so - more or less what the book said) and the result was perfect. I'd recommend the dish to anyone.

And now on to more important matters... I am making my own Sous Vide appliance. I will be doing this using a Microprocessor controlled Temperature regulator, a precision thermocouple, a Solid State Relay and a hotplate. This will cost many times less than a Laboratory bath and will have the advantage that I can use any of my own pans to cook with. It might well also be safer than buying a second hand one on eBay - no nasty chemicals!

But first I'd like some advice from the eGullet sousvideratti. I have two potential problems that I'd like your opinion on.

1. To keep the budget low the controller I will be using is only capable of maintaining to whole numbers i.e. One degree C or one degree F. No numbers after the decimal point. Controllers with greater resolution are available but they cost more. Would it be too restrictive to only be able to hold to only whole numbers?

2. The more expensive water baths and heating units have some kind of circulation method to move the water and presumably maintain a more stable temperature. I considered having something like an aquarium fish pump in the water bath but I think the temperature (55C/131F?) would be too great for the pump. Do you think I need to circulate the water or do you think it wouldn't adversely affect the cooking process not to have moving water?

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And now on to more important matters... I am making my own Sous Vide appliance. I will be doing this using a Microprocessor controlled Temperature regulator, a precision thermocouple, a Solid State Relay and a hotplate. This will cost many times less than a Laboratory bath and will have the advantage that I can use any of my own pans to cook with. It might well also be safer than buying a second hand one on eBay - no nasty chemicals!

The equipment you plan on using does not sound inexpensive. I bought a Julabo circulator for $900. It fits into any stockpot, maintains water temperature to .1°C and keeps it circulating. I am thrilled with it.

When cooking sous vide for only a short time (less than an hour or so) I doubt that it makes a big difference whether or not the water is circulating. However I would imagine that it might make a difference if you are using a large pot over several hours.

Ruth Friedman

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Joesan, i have made a setup similar to yours. I used a Dawson temp controller with 1deg. F resolution, a hotplate, a thermocouple and a pot. It worked well to confirm that i likes sous vide, and it made good food. I did find some stratification of heat, which may or may not have been a problem.

If you can find a cheap pump i would add it, i also thought of just adding an aquarium bubbler to the pot, which would at least move the water around somewhat, and the hot water would not be a problem since it doesn't go through a pump.

I found that leaving the hotplate on the lowest level reduced the overshoot by a great deal. My controller wasjust on-off, not a PID. A PID may be able to do better.

jason

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Do you think I need to circulate the water or do you think it wouldn't adversely affect the cooking process not to have moving water?

For a completely accurate temp yes, but one thing to consider if you're using this at home is the noise from a pump system. My circulating water bath is so damn loud I can't leave it on overnight :wink: , so I have to rely on a non-circulating one for longer cooking. Think I need a kitchen door.

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Ruth - the entire setup should cost about $120. For that you get basically identical performance to the Julabo, maybe a little less accuracy plus no circulator. It's a worthwhile saving I feel. Plus you get the (dubious) joy of doing-it-yourself. The other plus is I think I can build it to look a lot less like something out of a laboratory

Jason - Your always one (or more!!) steps ahead of me. But I am going to use a PID so maybe I can claw back some kudos there.

Digijam - That is indeed a factor to consider. I can't eat in the same room as my ice cream machine. I can imagine that a circulating pump might be just as bad.

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Joe, give the PID a try, it should work better. Some people on ebay sell autotuning PIDs for $50, they should work well. You could also use a crock pot and splice in to allow the PID to control the on off. I thikn this would work better than a hot plate and pot, since it would be better insultated, and be a cleaner easier solution instead of having wires running everywherE:)

Good luck. It is WAY WAY cheaper than a circulator. You should be able to get eveything for about $100 as you said, if not less. If you already have a crock pot, even better.

keep us up to date with results.

jason

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Jason - yes PID is definitely the way to go. I quite like the idea of being able to use different size pots - you know one size when doing the joint of beef another when preparing potatoes for Heston's mash etc. I'll post a picture of the setup when I'm done.

Bryanz - I see that you've got some really nice results with your waterbath (you got it from eBay I seem to recall). I'm interested in your comments that I don't need the 0.1 and the circulation. Can you elaborate a bit on your experiences? I can get a more accurate PID but they are more than double the price.

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I'm following this thread with interest. I have yet to try sous vide because of the difficulty in maintaining a low temperature for such a long time. It would be great if sous vide equipment was it's own thread. In reviewing the types of commercial equipment I find that they are very similar to a lens tinting tank I have at my office. Still too expensive and large for home use. From what I know about PID it would work well in this application. Joesan, I look forward to seeing pictures of how you set this up. Jmolinari, I think the crock pot idea is great, the only problem being the limitation of vessel size, although you could probably do most things in the cock pot.

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Actually, there is a waterbath thread, and at least one other sous-vide related thread that has do-it-yourself waterbath plans.

Laboratory water baths are ideal, and are not expensive if you get them on Ebay. There is no doubt that one can do a homemade version - this has been discussed extensively on the other thread.

Lab water baths are expensive mainly because they are sold in a market where price does not matter much. So they are typically overenginnered for cooking purposes (0.1 degree resolution, huge temperature range including above boiling...). But the nice thing is that they are very tough and reliable.

At some point somebody will make a cheap cooking oriented waterbath - there is no reason they should not exist in the same price range as deep fat fryers, rice cookers or just a bit more than a crock pot ro similar appliance.

Circulation is important if you have a lot of things in the bath at once, or somethnig large. You need to expose the food to the water evenly, and circulation handles that. You can get by without it if necessary, but in that case be careful not to load it very full, and not to allow the bags to touch or pile up.

Nathan

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Nathan - I was hoping you could find time to comment - you're the sous vide guru :biggrin:

I hope I haven't set this thread off on the wrong direction. It was the most active of the sous vide threads so I posted here. My apologies if I have.

Nathan as regard 0.1 accuracy - on your charts you give some temperatures to 0.X precision. If I do not have the capability to maintain a temperature with this accuracy I am understanding that there shouldn't be too much of a problem. I reckon I can comfortably get to plus or minus 0.5 F or C. That's not such a big factor of error is it?

On the circulation - I am planning on cooking primarily 2kg joints of meat that are approximately 140mm thick and say 180mm long. There will only ever be one of these joints in there at a time, and this is in a domestic setting. Sounds like I may have to find some way of agitating the water? Or perhaps if I use a very large pan the temperature will be more stable (thermal inertia of the water and all that) Ireally don't know if that last sentence makes sense from a physics point of view. :huh:

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Joesan, I hope I didn't make you feel that your post was in any way inappropriate. I am waiting with excitement on your results and didn't want the topic to get lost in the many pages of this thread.

Nathan, thanks for letting us know there were previous threads on the topic.

Here's one I found.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=81201&hl=

Edited by scubadoo97 (log)
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Joesan, I hope I didn't make you feel that your post was in any way inappropriate.

I am waiting with excitement on your results and didn't want the topic to get lost in the many pages of this thread.

No not all - I just realised that Nathan started the thread asking for recipes and maybe the equipment posts should go elsewhere but I put my posts here because it seems to be the most active for sous vide. I like a mix but maybe some egulleteers don't.

Anyway for sure I will post the finished setup when I put it all together.

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Bryanz - I see that you've got some really nice results with your waterbath (you got it from eBay I seem to recall). I'm interested in your comments that I don't need the 0.1 and the circulation. Can you elaborate a bit on your experiences? I can get a more accurate PID but they are more than double the price.

Nathan is right in that if you have a lot of items in a small or crowded bath, you're going to need circulation to make sure you don't get extreme variances. For my purposes, and those of most ambitious home cooks, you're just looking for a controlled cooking environment. Chances are you won't be doing pounds and pounds of meat. For me, it's maybe a couple racks of lamb or duck breasts, four or five chicken breasts, two or three pounds of beef.

I would support the crock-pot-as-water-bath movement, but to me that's a little too bootleg and you really can't do long cooks. Although sous vide is all about accuracy, +/- 1 degree makes very little noticeable difference. The advantage of a water bath is it's easy and reliable; set it and forget it, if you will.

Additionally, the average home cook uses a kitchen thermometer that may well be off by a degree or two anyway. Even this isn't the end of the world.

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